WINEMAKERS BUBBLING WITH OPTIMISM

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At last, the wine industry has something to toast.

Wine sales are expected to reach 184 million cases in 1994, up 3.4% from 1993, according to Impact & Market Watch, industry publication of Shanken Communications, New York. It would be just the second volume increase since 1984, when wine consumption peaked at 220 million cases.

Even better news for the industry, a major shift has occurred in the kinds of wines sold, with more profitable varietals now outselling jug wines.

"It's been a very, very strong year thus far," said Eileen Fredrikson, partner, Gomberg-Fredrikson & Associates, a San Francisco industry consultancy.

Things are also looking up for champagne and sparkling wine, with analysts anticipating this year's sales will hold steady at 14 million cases.

"All luxury goods are going to prosper again," said Ted Farthing, Schieffelin & Somerset Co., New York, brand manager for Moet & Chandon and Dom Perignon champagnes.

But marketers aren't standing still. Even though 40% of champagne and sparkling wine sales take place in the fourth quarter, some are expanding their marketing efforts to the rest of the year. And there's also a trend toward a lower-brow, mass-market sell.

Martini & Rossi's Asti falls into both categories. Marketing Manager John Gomez said the brand "won't be waiting for the fourth quarter" anymore and will be advertised year-round.

The current TV campaign, a $3 million to $4 million effort from McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York, targets Generation Xers with spots showing people drinking Asti for everyday reasons. Last year's campaign was themed, "Make the moment sparkle" and pictured a couple on the town.

Brown-Forman Corp.'s Korbel isn't waiting for the holidays anymore either. The champagne's first summer campaign broke earlier this year, an effort created by Carmichael Lynch, Minneapolis, that featured entertainer Don Ho.

Seagram Classics Wine Co.'s Champagne Mumm opted to go Hollywood. Besides placing a bottle of Mumm in the movie "Speechless," a romantic comedy about two political speechwriters working for opposing candidates, a less than $1 million holiday effort is tagged, "*`Speechless' is the movie. And Mumm is the word."

Domaine Chandon, Yountville, Calif., also has dropped the black tie look in ads from Kirshenbaum & Bond, New York. A $3 million print campaign uses a collage of photographs of areas around Domaine Chandon's popular Napa Valley winery. Sister brand Moet & Chandon is spending an equal amount on seductive TV and magazine ads focusing on romance.

But not everyone agrees with changing strategies. Paul Masson returned this fall to "We will sell no wine before its time" in ads from Trone Advertising, Greensboro, N.C. The agency also created an estimated $6 million spot and cable TV effort for Canandaigua Wine Co.'s Cook's champagne themed, "When America parties, it's Cook's."

Aggressive marketing pushes are also in the works for other brands. New ad campaigns are expected for E&J Gallo Winery, Modesto, Calif., from Foote, Cone & Belding, San Francisco, and Sutter Home Winery, Napa Valley, hired San Francisco's Goodby, Silverstein & Partners for what Sutter called "an aggressive marketing posture for 1995 and beyond."

Also, a group of vintners is considering establishing a marketing organization to create a campaign promoting wines.

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